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Erik Sine

A sign of bad times

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I don't like to be negative especially in these times, but seen some bad signs from my stand point.

Anyway, for the last couple of weeks, and as you know every Monday is the newsletter day that all members get for the newest or updated threads on the Sign Syndicate. I've been monitoring the bounces that I get, which are the emails that get sent back because either some mail servers won't accept them, the site is no longer there, or the recipient is no longer there.

I'm noticing a lot of the latter two. I'm getting a lot of mail back because either that business is no longer there (Dead site), or the individual email address is no longer valid. This is evident that there are a lot of layoffs going on in the country and a lot of sign businesses are closing their doors.

These are some tough times, things are going to get worse, but there are also remedies.

Thought I would share that and what I see on the open front on information I get back.

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You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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I'm deleting whole email accounts as they come back, so far I kid you not, I have a count of over 30+ electric sign companies that no longer exist. I'm not done, still deleting.


You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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Granted, lots of sign companies are laying off or even going out of business. As for me, things are picking up and January is already twice the revenue of last year.

AZ Sign & Graphics, Inc.

www.azsignandgraphics.com

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Oh yeah! Less companies, less competition! What's bad for some is good for others :whistling:


You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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Yeah - rough times like these often purge over-saturated industries of poorly run companies. I hope the people affected get back on their feet soon, but the companies who make it come out stronger.

We've already exceeded our January target and have some decent projects coming up that will give us a big boost going into spring and summer. Good things happening so far.

(where's the knock-on-wood smiley?)

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Business competency is as important as knowing how to make a sign. One of my competitors called me today asking for help with an .ai file to vectorize it. I felt sorry for him, as he had to go to his Catholic Church to beg for money to pay his propane bill, so I did his sign design. This guy has been in the sign business for more than 15 years! He recently laid off his only employee… his son. I’m going to hire him.

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Guest Signtiffic

on a positive note....... there is business. The points laid down about competency is very integral to doing business in today's market. I've mentioned here and elsewhere there has been "thinning of the herd" and it sucks for some while others who "get it" will do just fine in the coming year.

It's no time to be greedy, nor complacent.

There are a lot of poeple I know and learned quite a lot about signs from who are closing up. It's sad, but in a way it's their own fault. About 18 days ago it became 2010.... those who are/were stuck in 1970, 1980, 1990, etc etc, are doomed to be left behind. Those who are thinking and strategizing for 2015 are already ahead of the rest.

No one said this or any business is guaranteed to be easier the longer you are in it. There's always work to do but its not always the same. Stay motivated with learning and improving everything you do. And just don't think about it from your perspective. Demographically there is a lot that has change with decision makers in the last 5 years.

If you're stuck in yesteryear for anything other than a brief nostalgic moment you're definitely not participating in the now. REMEMBER its not just about staying current with the sign business.... what about staying current with your prospect's business?

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on a positive note....... there is business. The points laid down about competency is very integral to doing business in today's market. I've mentioned here and elsewhere there has been "thinning of the herd" and it sucks for some while others who "get it" will do just fine in the coming year.

It's no time to be greedy, nor complacent.

There are a lot of poeple I know and learned quite a lot about signs from who are closing up. It's sad, but in a way it's their own fault. About 18 days ago it became 2010.... those who are/were stuck in 1970, 1980, 1990, etc etc, are doomed to be left behind. Those who are thinking and strategizing for 2015 are already ahead of the rest.

No one said this or any business is guaranteed to be easier the longer you are in it. There's always work to do but its not always the same. Stay motivated with learning and improving everything you do. And just don't think about it from your perspective. Demographically there is a lot that has change with decision makers in the last 5 years.

If you're stuck in yesteryear for anything other than a brief nostalgic moment you're definitely not participating in the now. REMEMBER its not just about staying current with the sign business.... what about staying current with your prospect's business?

All very true replies and right on.

Very sad, I'm over 55+ companies and more to count and delete from the system.


You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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My dad always preached to me as a child "Hard work pays off"

he was right then and is still right at this day in age.

You can have the most up to date shop in the world using the latest equipment and technologies and if you are lazy you will fail.


Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

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My dad always preached to me as a child "Hard work pays off"

he was right then and is still right at this day in age.

You can have the most up to date shop in the world using the latest equipment and technologies and if you are lazy you will fail.

While hard work is key, it really isn't enough in business. You have to work smart. I'm sure a large number of the now unemployed autoworkers worked very hard - but having a bloated benefit structure and building the wrong cars is what did them in when times got tough.

Hard work will always get you somewhere, but ultimately most "hard workers" are still at the mercy of others making decisions about the work they do. In days gone by you could count on a job for life, but times have changed and versatility is probably more valuable than effort.

You're right that it wasn't the equipment - it was what was done with it - the same applies to signs. You have to adapt to what the market wants/needs and you have to be both good at what you do, and have the connections to get the work. You have to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves and be able to recognize problem scenarios in order to avoid being dragged down by them. Most of all, you have to be efficient.

Work smarter, not harder.

/babbling

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My dad always preached to me as a child "Hard work pays off"

he was right then and is still right at this day in age.

You can have the most up to date shop in the world using the latest equipment and technologies and if you are lazy you will fail.

While hard work is key, it really isn't enough in business. You have to work smart. I'm sure a large number of the now unemployed autoworkers worked very hard - but having a bloated benefit structure and building the wrong cars is what did them in when times got tough.

Hard work will always get you somewhere, but ultimately most "hard workers" are still at the mercy of others making decisions about the work they do. In days gone by you could count on a job for life, but times have changed and versatility is probably more valuable than effort.

You're right that it wasn't the equipment - it was what was done with it - the same applies to signs. You have to adapt to what the market wants/needs and you have to be both good at what you do, and have the connections to get the work. You have to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves and be able to recognize problem scenarios in order to avoid being dragged down by them. Most of all, you have to be efficient.

Work smarter, not harder.

/babbling

Hard work gets you the connections, gets you good at what you do,

Did you work hard to build your business Marko? or did you just build a web site and sit back and count all of the money coming in?

Anyone that says a successful business is not A LOT of hard work is full of shit

P.S. any of you guys that think that the days of the personal sales calls and being a visible of the community by joining service organizations (rotary, civitan etc)are gone and electronic chat rooms is all you need are in my humble opinion misguided and I will give you an extra large helping when I am giving of my time at the local soup kitchen LOL!

Edited by chubbygumby

Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

express%20neon%20sig.jpg

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I believe in hard work, and that is what has kept our doors open, even through last year, which was the worst year in our business' history. My husband had a stroke, and the recession on top of that almost did us in, and would have if not for hard work. They are dropping like flies around here too. I surely hope that 2010 will be a better year for all of us!

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I believe in hard work, and that is what has kept our doors open, even through last year, which was the worst year in our business' history. My husband had a stroke, and the recession on top of that almost did us in, and would have if not for hard work. They are dropping like flies around here too. I surely hope that 2010 will be a better year for all of us!

Now there is a success story! Stick in there

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Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

express%20neon%20sig.jpg

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Hi Brian,

The best leads for work are former customers. The second best is exposure in your local community. My company belongs to three chambers, two business owner groups, the Elks Lodge, VFW, Marine Corps League, American Legion, DAV, I'm on the board of directors for our local symphony and the S.A.F.E. House. While I give a lot of work away for free, I end up with tens of thousands of dollars of new work each year as a result of belonging and networking with these organizations. The third best is your web site and membership with Sign Search. The last is the yellow pages. I'm currently in four different yellow page books and I'm going to shrink all ads to the smallest possible next year.

Dave

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Hi Brian,

The best leads for work are former customers. The second best is exposure in your local community. My company belongs to three chambers, two business owner groups, the Elks Lodge, VFW, Marine Corps League, American Legion, DAV, I'm on the board of directors for our local symphony and the S.A.F.E. House. While I give a lot of work away for free, I end up with tens of thousands of dollars of new work each year as a result of belonging and networking with these organizations. The third best is your web site and membership with Sign Search. The last is the yellow pages. I'm currently in four different yellow page books and I'm going to shrink all ads to the smallest possible next year.

Dave

Yep you are correct! You cannot under estimate community involvement. People like to do business with people they feel they know on a personal level and that creates great loyalty not price shoppers. We stopped all yellow page advertising 3 years ago and cannot tell a difference. With the internet, buying yellow page ad space is like wiping your butt with your hard earned cash ...pointless!


Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

express%20neon%20sig.jpg

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Hard work gets you the connections, gets you good at what you do,

Did you work hard to build your business Marko? or did you just build a web site and sit back and count all of the money coming in?

Anyone that says a successful business is not A LOT of hard work is full of shit

P.S. any of you guys that think that the days of the personal sales calls and being a visible of the community by joining service organizations (rotary, civitan etc)are gone and electronic chat rooms is all you need are in my humble opinion misguided and I will give you an extra large helping when I am giving of my time at the local soup kitchen LOL!

I guess what I meant to say is that working hard - as in being able to climb the ladder more times or 2 guys doing the work of 3 - is not enough. That's the kind of 'work hard' that previous generations thought would be enough, and what I understood your post to mean.

Brian - we don't sell from a website, nor are we one of the 'social media' companies you seem to be lumping us in. I personally travel to see clients to present our products, secure jobs and projects and we do follow up work where necessary. Everything we do is based on both relationships and versatility, and that takes work. We manufacture our products right here in Canada - we don't simply import and re-sell like a lot of companies, and that takes work too. I'm not here til 9pm most nights surfing facebook - I'm working.

...and despite my saying that we're having a good month with good prospects going forward, believe me, there isn't always "all that money coming in" and we had to lay off 3 FT people last year. The difference is that we're not going into this year doing the same thing and expecting different results - we're adapting to meet the changes needed by the market and I plan to hire those 3 people back (all of whom want to come back) and hire even more as the year progresses.

There's no sitting around and waiting for things to happen.

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Hard work gets you the connections, gets you good at what you do,

Did you work hard to build your business Marko? or did you just build a web site and sit back and count all of the money coming in?

Anyone that says a successful business is not A LOT of hard work is full of shit

P.S. any of you guys that think that the days of the personal sales calls and being a visible of the community by joining service organizations (rotary, civitan etc)are gone and electronic chat rooms is all you need are in my humble opinion misguided and I will give you an extra large helping when I am giving of my time at the local soup kitchen LOL!

I guess what I meant to say is that working hard - as in being able to climb the ladder more times or 2 guys doing the work of 3 - is not enough. That's the kind of 'work hard' that previous generations thought would be enough, and what I understood your post to mean.

Brian - we don't sell from a website, nor are we one of the 'social media' companies you seem to be lumping us in. I personally travel to see clients to present our products, secure jobs and projects and we do follow up work where necessary. Everything we do is based on both relationships and versatility, and that takes work. We manufacture our products right here in Canada - we don't simply import and re-sell like a lot of companies, and that takes work too. I'm not here til 9pm most nights surfing facebook - I'm working.

...and despite my saying that we're having a good month with good prospects going forward, believe me, there isn't always "all that money coming in" and we had to lay off 3 FT people last year. The difference is that we're not going into this year doing the same thing and expecting different results - we're adapting to meet the changes needed by the market and I plan to hire those 3 people back (all of whom want to come back) and hire even more as the year progresses.

There's no sitting around and waiting for things to happen.

See that's what I meant, I was saying that you weren't a social media co. I knew you worked hard to build your biz. You did not just rely on electronic networking like some say is the way of the future. To me working hard includes answering emails quickly working late to finish quotes and doing all of the menial tasks that some seem to think is beneath them. That is where I think a lot of companies fail.


Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

express%20neon%20sig.jpg

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In some industries and geographical locations hard work does not keep you in business. After 75 years and 3 generations we finally had to close our doors. In Michigan, where there is almost no job market, anybody who has a computer thinks that they are a sign company. We've had 10 pop up in the last year doing business out of their garages and basements. They order vinyl from e-bay and don't care about quality. Unfortunately businesses around here are ONLY looking at the bottom line and not at how long the sign will last. Our only choices were to keep feeding money into the business that we didn't have, lower our quality to compete, or close our doors. Our name is associated with quality signs and we felt it was better to leave with our good name intact rather than lower our quality. It's been very heartbreaking. We wish you all well for 2010 and will be keeping our eye on these forums.

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That is terrible to hear Kim.

The market is so up and down these days, large corp retailers are taking 90-180 days to pay for simple service jobs. Most potential customers become shoppers only caring about bottom line and all they pay attention to is the sign vendors that advertise cheap! cheap! cheap! only caring about the short term. It's hard to compete with when you only want to make quality signs I don't care what anyone says.

I myself have a hard time trying to balance myself to just make enough money to stay satisfied. My goal is to not work too much and have time with the family, I just want to make enough money to pay my bills and do what I have to, to keep that balance. There was a time when I was too busy and I was never home, fortunately at the time I was only in a b/f g/f relationship and not married, otherwise I'd be divorced and having to work just the same to pay welfare money to my ex :sml (26): The money was great at the time, but I had no time to spend it.

I've been pretty fortunate lately, I'm home everyday to eat dinner with my family, I myself hope it stays that way for a bit. But lately around here it's slow too, but there is work if you want to find it.

My opinion is that the economy will get even worse in the upcoming months and maybe next year or two. We are entering a period of a government (local, state and especially federal) who want to become bigger and spend spend spend, invent more useless programs, create more regulation, invent more made up crisis with energy etc! It's pretty fricken difficult to do business in my state of California, this is the :treehugger: state and it starts with No Cal and rolls it's way down here. Try and open up a restaurant here and see how many hurdles you have to flip through, especially in San Diego County.

A lot of the good sized local shops here have had layoffs, and they all tell me they are slow. I get a lot of people calling or emailing me looking for work. We had a surge of work here when the Chase Bank signs were going up for install work and glass bending but since those jobs are all up now, it's slow.

There goes that balance again, charge a lot and work less, charge less and work a whole hell of a lot. Which side do you want to be on, which side id taking orders right now?

Damn the sign industry, how did I get here anyway!?!?!?? If I knew I would be here, would I still have taken the red pill, or should I have taken the blue? Hmmmmmm, something to ponder.

Well Kim, I wish you good luck with whatever you do or wherever you go. I do hope you stay with us here at the SS though. There is always a light a the end of the tunnel, it's just going to SUCK for bit and there will be a cheapening and whoring of our trade by those who think they are doing what they need, in order to survive (Unlicensed and licensed contractors). It always gets them in the end, just like in the movies, that nerdy, grotesque backstabbing individual ALWAYS gets theirs at the end of the flick.


You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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I think in this day you also have to have the ability to educate your customers without alienating them. Educate in the options available to them, the type of sign that would work best in the location, and what they can do when the permit process stalls because some officious official decides they don't like the sign.

A lot of our customers have their own ideas about what they want to see, but they may not realize or be able to visualize what the sign will look like when it's done. We had one customer who wanted to have his sign done based on a drawing by his grade school aged grandchild. That was a tough one!

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I thought about my post because when I was in "town" this morning (our shop is on the outskirts), I saw a sign a restaurant customer wanted us to do. We were too expensive (they said) and they didn't like our design, but the sign they ended up with is so washed out it looks horrible. Their parking lot was empty at noon.... People underestimate the power of their business signs.

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I thought about my post because when I was in "town" this morning (our shop is on the outskirts), I saw a sign a restaurant customer wanted us to do. We were too expensive (they said) and they didn't like our design, but the sign they ended up with is so washed out it looks horrible. Their parking lot was empty at noon.... People underestimate the power of their business signs.

I can relate. It's frustrating to spend the time educating the customer about the quality products you use, the time and thought you've put into the job, prompt replies, etc., to see you lose the job to someone that is willing to use cheap vinyl, plex, l.e.d's and so on. I met with a potential client 2 weeks ago and when talking to her about the job and explaining the drawing, she said "I don't care". Those are the types of clients we don't want and the businesses that don't last.

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Hard work gets you the connections, gets you good at what you do,

Did you work hard to build your business Marko? or did you just build a web site and sit back and count all of the money coming in?

Anyone that says a successful business is not A LOT of hard work is full of shit

P.S. any of you guys that think that the days of the personal sales calls and being a visible of the community by joining service organizations (rotary, civitan etc)are gone and electronic chat rooms is all you need are in my humble opinion misguided and I will give you an extra large helping when I am giving of my time at the local soup kitchen LOL!

I guess what I meant to say is that working hard - as in being able to climb the ladder more times or 2 guys doing the work of 3 - is not enough. That's the kind of 'work hard' that previous generations thought would be enough, and what I understood your post to mean.

Brian - we don't sell from a website, nor are we one of the 'social media' companies you seem to be lumping us in. I personally travel to see clients to present our products, secure jobs and projects and we do follow up work where necessary. Everything we do is based on both relationships and versatility, and that takes work. We manufacture our products right here in Canada - we don't simply import and re-sell like a lot of companies, and that takes work too. I'm not here til 9pm most nights surfing facebook - I'm working.

...and despite my saying that we're having a good month with good prospects going forward, believe me, there isn't always "all that money coming in" and we had to lay off 3 FT people last year. The difference is that we're not going into this year doing the same thing and expecting different results - we're adapting to meet the changes needed by the market and I plan to hire those 3 people back (all of whom want to come back) and hire even more as the year progresses.

There's no sitting around and waiting for things to happen.

See that's what I meant, I was saying that you weren't a social media co. I knew you worked hard to build your biz. You did not just rely on electronic networking like some say is the way of the future. To me working hard includes answering emails quickly working late to finish quotes and doing all of the menial tasks that some seem to think is beneath them. That is where I think a lot of companies fail.

I think you need to have a combination of both to be successful. We just started our business late in 2009 and bust our butts during the day in the field and do our e-mail, website & social media updates, etc., at night. My cell phone is on 24/7 for my clients and will do what it takes to get the job done. Keep in mind many potential small business owners have an 8 to 5 job and spend their evening at home doing research to start their business. Having a strong web presence that conveys your services and shows examples of your work for them to see while on their laptop in their pajamas helps. Online advertising and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have also helped us get noticed, but it's still the hard work, knowledge and hustle that gets the job done.

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Since the last time I posted, 14 more sign companies that were on this list are now KIA


You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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I spoke with a customer yesterday and as always he asked if we were busy. He then told me he was getting beat out by the bottom feeders. He said he was beat out by a grand on a set of raceway letters. He said he was at that site and noticed that the letters mounted on a raceway had no disconnect switch or UL label. I told him that if that was the case then they did not get a sign or electric permit. The area this was installed all are required. He also thought it likely that they took his design info. Granted I dont know that Helvetica is a design but He still had to measure the building check the code requirements and size the sign to fit the space meeting code requirements. He asked what I would do. I told him that the local code authority would love to here about this. He said he did not know and did not want to be a rat. I asked him if it is fair that some guy working out of his basement with no insurance, workers comp., building a possible unsafe sign stealing your design and breaking laws which allowed him to beat your price. I asked him if he cared that a customer that used (stole) his design and did not care that they are no in violation of code. I also told him that if the guy had complied with all the regs, rules and ethics that they would likely be higher. I hope he and others turn the bottom feeders in or the bottom feeders become reputable shops.

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